Johnson: A second golden era

Johnson said he has been working with Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, to help reinstate Saratoga Spring's share of the revenue.

City Council members welcomed the new initiatives to help stabilize the city' revenue sources and counter the rising cost of living.

"I like what the mayor is saying. A lot of it is getting more creative, thinking outside the box; not to sound clichE, but that's what it is," said Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins.

However, incumbent Democrats, especially Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim, took issue with Johnson's vision and questioned if it was enough to do what needs to be done.

"If you don't want to do something, put together a bunch of committees," said Kim. "I think there were five (in the speech), three already exist. Are we going to address our infrastructure problems, or are we going to delay and deny?"

Kim spoke to the mayor's proposal to form a Capital Construction Committee. At the top of its to-do list will likely be the hotly contested new Public Safety Building to replace the aging public safety and police force offices, Kim said.

The mayor recognized the need to improve working conditions and holding cells in the public safety offices in his speech. But there is a "lack of consensus" in the split City Council about the most practical solution, said Johnson. Whatever the agreement is, said Johnson, it must be the most cost effective and affordable.

Last estimates put costs for a new Public Safety Building at as much as $17 million. The City Council budgeted $8 million for a new building, and last year voted for tax increases that could cover debt service on the building, said Kim. It is those same tax increases -- 8.65 percent -- that Johnson said was unacceptable in his speech.

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